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Guest Chrisbee

Packing Lunches For School For Picky Eaters

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We've had lunch troubles too, but my non gluten-free son is the worst. He only wants hot lunch at school, but it's really expensive and totally garbage, so I only let him get it a few times a month. My gluten-free son is a bit easier.

They both took gluten-free lunches today -

12 year old:

2 slices deli turkey, rolled up

baggy of Fritos

banana

juice box

carrot sticks

Envirokidz cereal bar

9 year old:

2 slices deli turkey

individual container of Lays Stax

apple

Envirokidz bar

juice box

(I think he forgot his carrot sticks)

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Today's lunch:

9-year-old:

ham & cheese rollups (exactly how it sounds-she rolls a piece of cheese into ham and secures with a toothpick-for some reason her friends all think this is the coolest)

Fritos

Applesauce

water

4-year-old:

hot dog (no bun)

red grapes

cheese cubes

milk

1-year-old (okay, not the healthiest-I didn't get hers packed and we were on the go):

turkey & cheese

Cheetos

French fries

milk

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You are all so smart and creative! Suzie gluten-free Family--the menu ordering idea is sheer genius.

Here are my tips (I have an 11year old celiac son, and 5 non-celiac kids)

1. Kids like control, so let them pick what goes in their lunch. I tell them that to build the perfect lunch, they must include:

--One protein, like beef jerkey (read labels, some are OK, some not), hard boiled egg, cold cuts rolled up in a big lettuce leaf, a peanut butter on rice cake or pb sandwich, cottage cheese in a thermos, baggie of peanuts or any kind of nuts, even trail mix that's mostly nuts and raisins, and the very kid-friendly string cheese.

--One fruit or veg, like baby carrots, fresh fruit, dried fruit like raisins or apricots, canned fruit, fruit leather (they will take the individual mandarin orange cups or applesauce cups sometimes), cherry tomatoes, etc.

--One crunchy snack, like Cheetos, tortilla chips, popcorn (this is a fave at our house, and the cheapest snack ever), or gluten-free pretzels

--One sweet treat if they want--candy, gluten-free cookie, etc.

--One drink--bottle of water or a juice box.

2. Celiac kids don't like to appear different from the other kids, so if you can use mainstream foods that are just naturally gluten free, this will look more like "normal" food, and your celiac kid will feel less self-conscious about his/her food, and therefore more likely to actually eat it. gluten-free pretzels look the same a reg pretzels in a baggie, by the way, and my 11 year old loves to dip them in peanut butter or almond butter.

3. Keep your parental expectations reasonable:

--You wanting control over his lunch does not mean you will ever HAVE control over his lunch.

--You may not know exactly WHY your kid is avoiding or being picky about lunch. Your directing him to take the lunch and eat the lunch DOES NOT TAKE AWAY HIS REASON FOR REJECTING IT. So. Recognize that you may have little or no sway in the behavior.

--You are fooling yourself if you think you have control over this area of the kid's life. So, what I do is try to make sure my kids are fueled up with a healthy gluten-free breakfast (I recommend scrambled eggs, maybe with some turkey bacon on the side--my kids love this and they are great fuel to start the day with--MUCH better than cereal, which leaves you hungry an hour later). And I try to give them a healthy dinner, and I accept the possibility that they might make poor lunch choices when I'm not there. Still, I'd rather he eat a gluten-free Snicker Bar for lunch than no lunch, or a gluten food for lunch, so I pick my battles.

4. Plan for special occasions at school: At my kid's school, parents bring in cupcakes or donuts for birthdays, so I took in a canister of gluten-free candy bars and gave it to the teacher for my son to choose from when it's a cupcake situation. He enjoys the status of sharing these with other kids sometimes. Then one day a parent brought in pizza for the whole class, and my kid had to eat candy only and was bummed. So, now there's a frozen Amy's rice crust cheese pizza in the school freezer, if the pizza party situation comes up again. I've also sent microwave popcorn for my son to make and share for party days at school, and being able to share his food with everybody is a very positive status thing for him.

5. Plan for the forgotten lunch: my kid forgets to bring his lunch sometimes, so the teacher has a box of Zone Bars (some flavors are gluten-free: Fudge Graham, chocolate coconut crunch, chocolate almond raisin) that serve as a meal replacement. The teacher also has a stash of beef jerkey and dried apricots for my guy that will hold him over if he's without lunch in a pinch.

Hope this helps.

Susanna

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hello there i am new to this site so please bear with me. I definitely know what it's like having a child with Celiac. I have a 4 yrs old who has it and a 22 months old who doesn't. Well, my son is getting used to it now, but at school it was hard at the beginning. He goes to P-k and there of course he sees kids eating other things and there was one point where he wouldn't eat anything. Being used to an italian cousine, he hated all the gluten-free foods. Even now he still hates the bread and for that reason my sister in law sends it from italy. But now the only way he'll eat anything is if i make it myself. So that's what i do. Sometimes i get so discouraged that this is something that he has to live with it forever. I do have a recipe for "rice roll ups" I make them and freeze them. When he wants them i'll thaw them and roll them up with ham and cheese, put in a microwave to melt the cheese. HE absolutely loves them .

talk to you soon

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Susanna,

Glad you like the menu idea :D

My children have been having fun with it this week. I don't think they've actually eaten a lot more lunch the past two days, well maybe a little bit more but certainly not everything, but it's been less stressful and more fun for me.

They have been involved with choosing the items (and they've been helping to pack some of it too) and I've been happy knowing they have a pretty decent well-balanced lunch. When they come home with some things still uneaten it **feels** different knowing that they didn't eat something they had **choosen** to include in their lunch. Perception makes a big difference. I have found that I've been able to talk to them about why they didn't get to finish their lunch instead of getting upset with them. Often they've been busy talking instead of eating. I don't know who they've inherited the "chattiness" gene from.... certainly not me :P

Suzie

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Great lunches yesterday.. looks like carrots and dip was popular ;)

I like the microwave idea too! I'm going to check into that for Carleigh. She has Enjoy Life cookies in her party stash at school. But she told me that she is tired of them and would like something else. I may send in a box of Kettle Korn, if there is a microwave that can be wiped down and then used.

My kids are now on Spring Break so we'll be eating at home through next week.

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I guess I am lucky in that my daughter eats most anything I send in and then whines to me that I didn't send enough of it for her. She has a BIG appetite. I too have the stainless steel containers. Just wish they were bigger. At the start of this year I bought insulated bowls that hold more food but they couldn't get the top off at school. The third time this happened, I threw them in the trash. Poor kid got no lunch! I finally sent in a can of Organ pasta in tomato sauce and told the teacher if something like that every happened again to just give her the can and have her eat it cold.

I also have some little square containers that have a separate little round compartment in the middle. They are intended for chips and dip. Daughter has additional food allergies so she is limited to what she can use as a dip. She likes hummus and also Nacho Chreese. I sent in the Nacho Chreese today with some mini tortilla chips. If hummus, I will send in carrots, cucumber slices and some little breadsticks on the side. Today I also sent in some zucchini muffins made from the zucchini bread recipe I got on this website, minus the nuts. She doesn't like nuts baked into things.

Much of the time I send in things that don't need heating or refrigeration and she is fond of prepackaged foods. Like turkey sticks and fruit rollups or certain brands of fruit leather. She wouldn't eat fruit leather until this year and she is still picky as to what brand she will eat. She also loves things in bar form. I used to get her the Envirokids cereal bars until they started putting soybean oil in them. She's allergic. She does like the bars from Enjoy Life Foods. I get assorted bars and crackers from Ener-G and also some from either Glutino or Glutano. Can't remember which. They remind of me a Fig Newton. Fruit filling with sort of a cake like substance outside. And she loves Macrobiotic cashew butter and coconut bars but at almost $3 per bar, I have to limit her intake of them.

Other pre-packaged things I send in are bags of baby carrots (doesn't always eat those), marshmallows, Enjoy Life cookies, Boomi Bars, Pumpkin seed bars, individually packed bread, 2 slices per (with a thermos of tomato soup), beef jerky (if I can find soy free).

Sandwiches don't always go over so well. Often she leaves the meat and just eats the bread. She will usually eat a nut or seed butter and jelly sandwich. And I do make her pizzas to be eaten cold. I use the Namaste mix for a crust, making small single pizzas. Since she can't eat dairy, I use a cheese replacer and pepperoni. Sometimes I just sent the slices of pepperoni in a bag since she prefers to eat them off the pizza. Hard boiled eggs would be another option, although my daughter is allergic.

One thing I noticed is how little time they really have to eat their food at school. Although the lunch period is supposed to be a half an hour, realistically they get only about 15 to 20 minutes to eat. The teacher keeps pushing them to hurry up so they can get back to work. So for this reason it seems best to send in things that can be eaten quickly.

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Gabriella, I have the same anxiety in the grocery store. Sometimes I feel my eyes glaze over and my ears burning as I pick up product after product. I have been gluten-free since 2001, and my son (9) has been gluten-free for 2 years now. But I think things are getting better. It used to be no one knew what the heck I was talking about. And if I wanted to eat something tasty I had better be prepared to order it in the mail and pay out the ying yang. And as far as traveling goes, I've got my sites set on places like England where I hear they have gluten-free pubs and festivals and I see the West Coast has a lot of dining out possibilities. And who can forget Disney World? We had a very successful family vacation there last year.

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Gabriella, I have the same anxiety in the grocery store. Sometimes I feel my eyes glaze over and my ears burning as I pick up product after product. I have been gluten-free since 2001, and my son (9) has been gluten-free for 2 years now. But I think things are getting better. It used to be no one knew what the heck I was talking about. And if I wanted to eat something tasty I had better be prepared to order it in the mail and pay out the ying yang. And as far as traveling goes, I've got my sites set on places like England where I hear they have gluten-free pubs and festivals and I see the West Coast has a lot of dining out possibilities. And who can forget Disney World? We had a very successful family vacation there last year.

Gabriella - Could you tell about your Disney experience? I'm wanting to take my daughter there for her B-day this June. Where did you eat etc? Have you heard anything regarding the Disney cruises and gluten free food?

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I get up every morning and fix both my boys a gluten-free lunch to take to school but neither one will usually eat it! I bought two stainless steel food thermos containers so they could have hot lunches, but the only success I've had is sending taco meat with taco shells and cheese. And only my ten year old ate that. The six year old emptied it in the trash. I've sent lunchmeat and cheese rollups with Miracle Whip on corn tortillas, pb&j on gluten-free bread, homemade gluten-free mac&cheese, Annie's mac&cheese, BBQ hamburger with tortilla chips and a chicken and rice dish. They will eat all these meals at home, but won't touch them at school! I also send some sort of fruit, yogurt and a snack such as chips or cereal. They will eat that sometimes, but not the main part of their meal, and then they come home ravenous and raid the pantry for snacks. I don't know what to do to get them to eat. Any suggestions? They won't even try vegetables. Should I take away snacks completely until I can get them to eat? We've only been gluten-free a few weeks, will it get better? :(

I too have a 6 y/o, Hannah who hardly eats ANY of her meals. She has always been a picky eater, but now it is soo much worse.

I also agree with what someelse put - the kids just want to play, so they eat a tiny bit and run out to play. My Mom also said when she has helped out at school she sees a majority of the kids throwing their lunches away. So we do have picky eaters, but I think a lot has to do with play time.

We pack:

We called the school and long story short, she can eat hot lunch ~ 1x per month b/c their Nachos are gluten-free. She marks the day every month!

Delmonte jarred fruit or sliced apples or cantaloupe pieces

Snack size cup of Lay's chips

Tostito chips and cheese dip

Cream cheese or PB & J

Ener'G crackers or

Glutino cracker's

Cold cuts and cream cheese

Leftovers such as chicken fingers made with gluten free breadcrumbs or floured with gluten free flour - I think we use potato - I am lucky, my husband does all the cooking, so I don't know for sure and he isn't home right now. OR spaghetti...

AND since we live so close to the school once in a while we bring her Glutino's Pizza.

If anyone has advice or suggestions I would love to hear from you.

By the way, I personally really do not eat bread anymore b/c of how hard it is. Is there a way of making it soft?

We just do not eat sandwiches anymore.

We do order from Kinnikinnick their bread, muffins and bagels which are great but only toasted is ther way I know.

Thanks,

Jacqui

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By the way, I personally really do not eat bread anymore b/c of how hard it is. Is there a way of making it soft?

We just do not eat sandwiches anymore.

We do order from Kinnikinnick their bread, muffins and bagels which are great but only toasted is ther way I know.

Thanks,

Jacqui

We make our own bread now and just use the frozen store-bought brands in emergencies. The bread we make at home is entirely different from the stuff we had been eating before. We can make sandwiches without toasting the bread- what a thrill.

Either you could purchase a bread machine (you'll need to get one that is recommended for gluten-free bread, the Zojirushi is highly recommended but there are a few cheaper ones too) or a good quality mixer (like a KitchenAid mixer with a powerful motor). There are pros and cons to both the bread machine and the mixer- depends on your needs and your lifestyle.

There are some good bread mixes available which make nice, soft gluten-free bread (like Pamela's mix) and there are also some good recipes you can make from scratch.

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We make our own bread now and just use the frozen store-bought brands in emergencies. The bread we make at home is entirely different from the stuff we had been eating before. We can make sandwiches without toasting the bread- what a thrill.

Either you could purchase a bread machine (you'll need to get one that is recommended for gluten-free bread, the Zojirushi is highly recommended but there are a few cheaper ones too) or a good quality mixer (like a KitchenAid mixer with a powerful motor). There are pros and cons to both the bread machine and the mixer- depends on your needs and your lifestyle.

There are some good bread mixes available which make nice, soft gluten-free bread (like Pamela's mix) and there are also some good recipes you can make from scratch.

Thank you!

We did buy a Cuisinart and were totally blown away when we read on the box "For gluten-free bread and Low Carb". How awesome that was to see after finally being dx'd with celiac disease and people thinking it is nothing or does not exist !!!

So, if you bake it at home how do you store it? Freeze? but then it wouldn't be that great right? Refridgerator? or just wrapped on the counter?

Thanks again!!

Jacqui

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My daughter loves ham and cheese rolled together and held with a toothpick. deviled eggs,tuna salad with cheese sprinkled on top, rice and chicken pieces, gluten-free lasagna in a thermos, apple with pb, celery with cheese whiz, fruit with homemade fruit dip, rice cakes with cream cheese.

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My daughter loves ham and cheese rolled together and held with a toothpick. deviled eggs,tuna salad with cheese sprinkled on top, rice and chicken pieces, gluten-free lasagna in a thermos, apple with pb, celery with cheese whiz, fruit with homemade fruit dip, rice cakes with cream cheese.

We do the roll ups, cream cheese and the apples. What kind of rice cakes? Rice cakes and cream cheese or PB&J might work. She doesn't like most of the rest. I told her both of us are going to have to give different food a chance. I too am picky and she is like my twin! :blink: Pooor world.... :o

Thank you! Any other ideas are more than welcome!

Jacqui

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Does anyone have some suggestions for something to pack with hummus? We used to use pitas. I guess I could use strips of gluten-free bread or tortilla chips- other ideas would be welcome.

Also- I've got tin salmon in the cupboard and I'm wondering if there is something I could do with it that my kids might eat for lunch? Eggs too... any ideas? I pack sliced lunch meats often and would like to cut-back on them- too many nitrates.

Suzie

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So, if you bake it at home how do you store it? Freeze? but then it wouldn't be that great right? Refridgerator? or just wrapped on the counter?

Thanks again!!

Jacqui

Jacqui,

We just keep it on the counter, I wrap it in a plastic bag after it has cooled. Our household is gluten-free (2 adults + 3 kids) so the bread doesn't last a long time here at our place. About 2-3 days maximum. By the third day, the bread is best used for french toast.

Suzie

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Jacqui,

We just keep it on the counter, I wrap it in a plastic bag after it has cooled. Our household is gluten-free (2 adults + 3 kids) so the bread doesn't last a long time here at our place. About 2-3 days maximum. By the third day, the bread is best used for french toast.

Suzie

Hi Suzi,

Thank you! Hannah is standing next to me and would like to check the kid site out. This forum thing is new to her...

Take care,

Jacqui

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Jacqui,

We just keep it on the counter, I wrap it in a plastic bag after it has cooled. Our household is gluten-free (2 adults + 3 kids) so the bread doesn't last a long time here at our place. About 2-3 days maximum. By the third day, the bread is best used for french toast.

Suzie

Hi Suzi,

Thank you! Hannah is standing next to me and would like to check the kid site out. This forum thing is new to her...

Take care,

Jacqui

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Suzie,

My husband likes rice crackers or gluten-free pretzels w/ hummus. We also use canned salmon just like canned tuna, mixing w/ a little mayo and pickle. My daughter loves to eat that w/ rice crackers.

Hormel makes a nitrate free lunch meat that I buy in my regular grocery store or I buy Apple Farms (think that name isn't quite right...Applegate farms, maybe?) at a natural foods store.

Some of my gluten-free son's favorite lunches are: rice crackers w/ garlic & herb spreadable cheese, chx noodle soup, apples and cheese, baked potato soup.

Good luck..I know it's hard.

Sue

Thanks for those ideas Sue. We actually had salmon salad sandwiches this weekend (tin salmon with mayo and sliced celery)- well just DH and me, the kids turned their noses up at it and had ham instead.

Do you make homemade chicken noodle soup? What do you use for the noodles?

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Thanks for those ideas Sue. We actually had salmon salad sandwiches this weekend (tin salmon with mayo and sliced celery)- well just DH and me, the kids turned their noses up at it and had ham instead.

Do you make homemade chicken noodle soup? What do you use for the noodles?

I use Tinkyada noodles (elbow or spiral). Cook them separately, rinse well and add them to the soup towards the end of cooking. The whole family loves it. ( 2 gluten-free, 2 non gluten-free).

Try the hummus w/ cucumbers or carrots also.

Sue

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